scharrison's blog

Deferred Responsibility: The Builders Win Again

I think I'll start this diary off with a little primer on the recession for the General Assembly, because it appears as if they don't quite grasp what happened: Lending institutions and homebuilders finally consummated their years of flirtatious infatuation with an orgy of poorly vetted, ticking time-bomb loans for overpriced houses and, when the inevitable foreclosures resulted, the money wizards who gambled our future on those loans sucked down tequila at Cabo san Lucas and tried to ignore the incessant chirping of their cell phones.

Les Merritt Heads Up New Puppetshow Arm

I know that many of us worked towards achieving less Merritt, and for a while it seemed like we might actually have accomplished no Merritt. But alas, that is not to be:

In downtown Raleigh - just down the street from the State Capitol - a new watchdog group is working to expose government corruption. It's called the Foundation for Ethics in Public Service.

"We believe this could be a significant complement to counter public corruption, which I do believe is growing," offered Frank Perry.

Perry spent 22 years with the FBI and ran the Raleigh Bureau office in the years after the September 11 attacks. Most recently, he worked for the State Ethics Commission and the State Auditor's Office.

Now, he's joining forces with former State Auditor Les Merritt in creating the foundation.

Renewable Energy Portfolio Under Attack

For all of its flaws, North Carolina's REPS package does contain some critical elements that make us part of an enlightened coalition of states that have already brought about some very promising changes in the way our nation approaches the generation of energy. But there is a bill sponsored by Fletcher Hartsell that is on the General Assembly's Crossover list that could make our state's REPS package completely useless in the promotion of renewable energy, and it needs to be stopped. Note: I really want you to read this diary, so I'm going to be very brief. Enjoy it while you can. ;)

*Major edit*

It's been brought to my attention that I pointed towards the wrong parts of this legislation previously, to wit: The max 10% requirement I referenced was for coops and municipalities (as opposed to utilities), and that hadn't been modified/revised from the original version in this new bill.

Richard Burr: No Friend To Veterans

As a veteran, my eyes and ears tend to perk up whenever the military is mentioned, whether in the media or even just in casual conversation. I can't help it. And if a politician claims to be "looking out for" or "representing" veterans' interests, I pay even closer attention, because that's one of those things that voters love to hear, but seldom follow up on. Richard Burr has developed a reputation as being "big" on veterans' issues, and I think it's about time we followed up on that.

Before I begin, I want to make sure that everybody understands that our senior Senator has been well-informed on these issues. He's been privy to countless briefings exposing the needs of veterans over the years, so any mistakes he's made can't be attributed to a lack of knowledge. Also, although I usually refrain from linking to (other) blogs because I don't want readers to have to struggle to find primary sources, I'm going to post a few here, because they are concerned voices that deserve to be heard.

Cary Allred's Last Sponsored Bill Before Retirement




SECTION 1. Definitions:

1) Dark-Colored Glasses: For the purposes of this bill, dark-colored glasses are any glasses which make things look bad, when they're really not bad.

2) Evil Thoughts: Any thought where the thinker sees something innocent (probably using dark-colored glasses) and allows his or her mind to descend into the gutter, and begins to think about things that are unthinkable.

SECTION 2. Penalties:

Any legislator found to be in violation of this Act shall be subject to one or more of the following:

a) Tarred and feathered, and subsequently rode out of town on a rail.

b) Drawn and quartered.

c) Forced to run a gauntlet.

The Governor's Focus: an Update

As I mentioned in a previous diary, I've been attending the monthly meetings of The Governor's Focus on Returning Combat Veterans and their Families for the past several months, and after Wednesday's meeting, I figured it was time to give you a brief update on some of the issues at which we've been looking.

In a nutshell, the Governor's Focus is tasked with making sure veterans and their families have ready and easy access to existing mental health programs and services, and to identify real or potential gaps in these services and develop solutions for such.

To give you an idea of the sheer scope of this venture:

Titan Cement: The Conversation Continues

Before I begin this diary, I want to ask a question in all seriousness: why is this diary even necessary? Is adding 161 jobs, probably half of which will be filled by technicians moving here from another state, worth the destruction of 1,000 acres of precious wetlands, adding a carbon footprint so big you could count the toes from space, and scattering methyl mercury around like a kid adding sugar to his cornflakes? Of course it isn't worth it. But we're not talking about common sense here, are we? We're talking about politics, and the irrational behavior of those who engage in it.

Some of you may be aware that Senator Julia Boseman sponsored SB699, a bill to:

David Hoyle, Pollution Superstar

For the record, I want to state upfront that I derive no pleasure from attacking elected Democrats for their behavior, and I look forward to the day when that won't be necessary. But as long as legislators like Senator Hoyle pursue policies that present a clear and present danger to the environment of our beautiful state, as well as the health and welfare of the people they're supposed to watch over, looking the other way for Democratic Party solidarity's sake is a pill I simply cannot swallow.

Thanks to an e-mail alert from our good friends at the NC Conservation Network, we see that Senator Hoyle has joined Jim Rogers of Duke Energy and Titan Cement as the third recipient of their Pollution Superstar Award:

Pollution Superstar #3: Senator Hoyle

The Future of Journalism

A few things that James said last Saturday while presenting a BlueNC Bulldog Award to the (in absentia) Capitol Press Corps have stuck in my mind for the past week, and I think they bear repeating and deeper exploration. In acknowledging the value and effort behind professional, credentialed investigative reporting in the exposure of the nuts and bolts of governmental operations, James also exposed far and above the most important and ominous aspect of the collapsing newspaper business: the loss of career journalists.

On Mercury, Cliffside, and Convenient Ignorance

Some of you may wonder why I have yet to speak out about the recent acquiescence by DAQ in the issuance of a new air quality permit for Duke Energy's Cliffside #6 coal-fired power plant. Frankly, the DAQ's complete reversal from its previous position last fall knocked my legs out from under me, and every time I think about it I see red. It's a good thing I didn't attend the recent protest, because I'd probably still be locked up. That being said, this discussion must continue, and it must be based on the real-world dangers associated with this reckless project.


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